Isabella students get introduction to robotics

Published 10:09 am Friday, January 27, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

MAPLESVILLE — Isabella Elementary third-grade students in the gifted class are getting an introduction to robotics with Sphero robots.

Gifted teacher Stacey Pierce said the robots are used in activities to calculate speed and distance, promote creativity and problem solving as well as teach computer coding.

The circular machines are linked to an iPad to program movements. A blue car cover fits over the robot to create additional challenging and fun activities with different iPad apps and plastic ramps.

“These fit in great with STEM [Science, Technology Engineering and Math] because it is hands-on,” Pierce said.

The Sphero robots also light up and have an optional cover that makes the device water resistant.

“You can code the ball to do whatever you want it to do,” Pierce said.

Students are given specific assignments for tasks to complete, such as calculating the robots speed or programing it to move a certain way. Pierce said students get excited when the program the robots and it works correctly.

The teacher said she also hopes working with the robots will help students develop perseverance and determination in solving problems, and “spark creativity” for her students.

“There are different apps they can download to have the robot do different things,” Pierce said. “It can draw. It can dance.”

Some of the apps are free, while others are an additional cost. Pierce said apps are available for different levels of difficulty.

Pierce said being exposed to this type of technology at this age will give the students an advantage later on.

The robots were purchased by a teacher last year through a Chilton County Public Education Foundation grant and a Bright Ideas grant.

Pierce teaches at four Chilton County Schools. The Spheros are shared with the other teachers of the gifted classes, so all of the Chilton County gifted classes will use the Sphero robots at some point.